Carl XIV (John) Johan 1818-1844


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Carl XIV Johan 


Carl XIV Johan's original name was Jean-Baptiste-Jules Bernadotte. Born in Pau in the south of France, he was the son of a trial lawyer. During the French Revolution he was promoted from petty officer to general in just three years. In 1805 he took part in the battle at Austerlitz, and later the same year he was appointed prince of Ponte Corvo in Italy.  

The death of the heir to the Swedish throne, Carl August of Augustenborg, led to dealings between Bernadotte and political circles in Sweden. In 1810 the national assembly at Ørebro elected him as heir to the throne in Sweden. When he arrived in Sweden shortly after, the members of the national assembly swore their allegiance to the new heir now going by the name Carl Johan. Although Carl XIII retained the title of king, Carl Johan was the de-facto ruler from the time of his swearing in as heir to the throne. 

In 1812 Carl Johan entered an alliance with Russia, making a similar arrangement with Prussia and England the following year. He managed to secure a pledge from the Great Powers that Sweden should be granted Norway in exchange for its participation in the battles against Napoleon. Carl Johan had masterminded the Russian campaign and personally led the so-called Northern Army in 1813-14.

After the battle at Leipzig he turned towards Denmark and forced Frederick VI to surrender Norway to Sweden. By the end of May 1814 he was back in Sweden and could devote his attention to the "rebellious" Norwegians who had refused to acknowledge the Treaty of Kiel. Instead, they adopted the Eidsvoll constitution and elected the Danish crown prince, Christian Frederick, as their king. Carl Johan proceeded to take his forces across the Swedish-Norwegian border and after a short war the Norwegians agreed to elect Carl XIII as king with Carl Johan as his successor. Carl XIII died in 1818 and Carl Johan now became king of both Sweden and Norway.

Despite the run-ins between Carl Johan and the Norwegian parliament (Storting), especially in 1821 and 1836, Carl Johan gradually became very popular in Norway. When he died in 1844, at the age of 81, he was succeeded by his only son, Oscar I.

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